Hilory Paster's Personal Story
As a child, I spent many afternoons in my rural neighborhood of CT playing in the empty fields and wooded areas behind my home. My favorite afternoon would end with evidence of mud ridden all over my sneakers, pants and hands from trekking through fields, twigs in my hair from swinging from trees and stories about adventures of trail blazing and fort building. It was not a surprise that as an adult my most peaceful, calm and joyous days are when I can be outside one with nature. I am the crazy one when offered a day in New York City will cringe from the size of tall buildings, congested streets and suggest an alternate activity of spending the day hiking Central Park. As a mother, I had every intention to share my love for nature with my children. I could not think of any greater opportunity than to do it all over again through the eyes of my children.
What I did not anticipate was how this dream can easily be taken away. The unexpected changes in life can leave us with circumstances not anticipated. For me, the change came when my first son was born with Cerebral Palsy. The adventures that I took so freely and unencumbered became full of challenges. Planning how to maneuver a power wheelchair through a mountain, ascending rugged trails and accessing all the delights, became an imposing task. I was not strong enough emotionally or physically to endure the challenges that faced these outings. Once joyous adventures became scheduled, stressful and painful experiences. I became increasingly dismayed as I struggled to find accessible trails that would support a person who ambulated differently. I was disheartened when many of our experiences ended at the visitors’ station. This regularly split our family, some went on an exploration, while others stayed to watch the historical footage and eat at a table that did not fully accommodate a wheelchair. Consequently, we chose to stop these adventures.
I know my story is not different from many individuals who have found that life’s experiences and pleasures changed with their physical status. Whether you were born with physical challenges, or lost the use of parts of yourself from illness, accidents, tragedies or wounded heroically in war, you understand the frustration of not being able to engage freely in the world as you once did. Times that brought such beauty and joy are met with increased frustration and challenge. The enjoyments of experiences are overshadowed by the need to overcome the obstacles.